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Taking a Look at Twitter

Yen Yen Lee

Social media is the norm in this day and age. It plays increasingly important roles and creates significant influence in our social life. But have you ever wondered what other impacts it has on our lives? 

Twitter, as we all know is a microblogging tool at only 140-characters.  It is a community-controlled micro sharing environment depending on whom you choose to ‘follow’ and who chooses to ‘follow you’ (Dunlap and Lowenthal 2009). 

Twitter users are geographically spread across all continents with North America, Europe, and Asia having the highest adoption rate (Agrifoglio et al. 2012). This allows people to expand their network worldwide without boundaries. Imagine the broad perceptions from an extensive number of communities living in different countries, which grew up with different culture, in different backgrounds, being shared in the virtual space. 

It builds a community among like-minded groups such as students, sports fanatics, foodies, travelers, consumers, actors, musicians, vendors, bankers, politicians, journalists and so on. They are encouraged to share their passion, interest, knowledge and resources enabling collaboration on ideas of practice (Dunlap and Lowenthal 2009). And all of this communication happens in real-time, so the shared information is instantaneous which develops social presence (Smith and Tirumala 2012).

Twitter was created in 2006 and the company went public last year as shown in the ‘tweet’ below.

It has also just celebrated its eighth anniversary of its founding in March (Griggs 2014). Throughout these 8 years of its business, Twitter has gone through its ups and downs and now it has expanded to a total of 241 million active users as shown in the table below (Twitter 2014).

Its business model is to obtain as many users as possible. Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo declared at an investor conference last month ‘I am not going to be satisfied until we reach every connected user on the planet, period’ (McDuling 2014).

Currently as a public company, Twitter is pressured to grow even more than before (Bailey 2014). Twopchart, a company that monitors data about Twitter users tracked a total of 938.4 million registered user accounts (Edwards 2014a) which are displayed in the table below.

However, public view is that its customer base cannot grow much further than it already is (Ye et al. 2012). It was mentioned above that there are only 241 million active users, hence it illustrates that almost 3/4 users has abandoned their twitter account. This implies that Twitter is not doing as well as we thought it was, resulting in Twitter stocks to drop by 17% in its first ever IPO earning call (Edwards 2014b). 

Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo commented that ‘there are users who do not tweet but simply use twitter as a curated newsfeed of updates’ (McDuling 2014). Nonetheless, people would still question its growth ability (Ye et al. 2012). 

Twitter’s challenges:

(1) User-(un)friendly for new users

(2) Better sorting and filtering tools

(3) Better sharing tools for photos and video

(4) Increase accessibility

CEO’s action:

• Simplifying on-boarding process for new users

• Created ‘#’ hashtags and ‘@’ symbols as user-driven features

• Redesigned user page (bigger profile picture,  banner picture and tweet picture)

• New features:

  1. Push notifications 

  2. Event Parrot, designed to alert people to breaking news

  3. Pin favourite tweets to top of profile page

  4. Ability to filter others’ tweet

  5. Allowing 4 photos in a tweet, and tag up to 10 people, without counting against the 140-character limit.

  6. ‘Discover’ tab

Why people use twitter?

Survey shows Twitter appeals to users who are primarily self-indulgent and knowledge seeking. It was revealed that 87% in Twitter revenue came from advertising (Baskin 2013). With millions of worldwide users connected to Twitter, it is undoubtedly an attractive advertising platform. 

So how do marketers build brand personality through Twitter?

Twitter offers advertisers promoted accounts, tweets and trends for them to promote, build mass awareness and scale up their follower-base (Bailey 2014). With that, organizational values, products, services, promotions can be delivered instantaneously around the world as a growth engine for the organization. 

It was found that more organizations are adopting Twitter as an additional way to continuously engage with customers (Burton and Soboleva 2011) because the increase in interactivity makes it valuable in marketing.  There were 60% of Fortune 500 organisations’ Twitter accounts by late 2010 (up from 35% the previous year), compared to only 56% with a Facebook account concurrently (Barnes 2010). Regular updates and interactions with consumers helps create a connection to inspire customer loyalty and keep them engaged with the brand (Schiff 2013).

Yen Yen Lee is currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing. This blog was originally submitted as part of Yen Yen Lee’s assessment material for MKTG3120- Building and Managing Brands in semester 1, 2014.

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